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OU / Communications / COMM 2003 / What are the functions and elements of culture?

What are the functions and elements of culture?

What are the functions and elements of culture?


Exam 1 SG

What are the functions and elements of culture?

Friday, February 9, 2018 11:17 AM

What is culture?

• 19th century: synonym to (western) civilization (high society, worldly) • Current definitions

Learned meaning systems that are passed on from one generation to the next and are  shared to varying degrees (ting-toomey & chung)  

▪ Learn by example

▪ Learn norms (told or observe, or by trial and error)

▪ Learn through socialization

○ Enculturation (process of learning your culture)

○ Historically transmitted pattern of meaning embodied in symbols (geertz) ▪ Representations of your culture (cross necklace, etc)

What is the iceberg culture?

We also discuss several other topics like What is comparative politics?

▪ Opposition to (high culture) is pop culture (popular) (the mass like it)

People from the same group will share symbols and recognize it as a indication of that  group  

▪ Derive meaning from those symbols Don't forget about the age old question of Explain the core postulates of cooperative federalism.

Accumulated pattern of values, beliefs, and behaviors shared by an identifiable group of  people with a common history and verbal and nonverbal symbol system (neuliep) ▪ Verbal (language) nonverbal (icons, symbols)

• Functions and elements of culture

○ To teach people how to adapt to the world around them

▪ Blueprint for behavior

○ Culture is composed of numerous elements

▪ Worldview, religion, history, values, social organization, and language

What are the possible relations between communication and culture?

▪ Symbols, rituals, values, and heroes We also discuss several other topics like What are the categories of allopatric speciation?

▪ Tells you info about the things that culture values

- The iceberg of culture

• Ice burg of culture

○ Tip

▪ Food

▪ Music

▪ Language'visual arts

▪ Festivals

▪ Literature

▪ Holiday customs

▪ Performing arts

▪ Flags

▪ Games

▪ Dress

○ Hidden

▪ Nature of friendship

▪ Values We also discuss several other topics like Narrate the history of microbiology.

▪ Rules

▪ Body language

▪ Religious beliefs

▪ Etiquette

▪ Notions of beauty

▪ Notions of self


- Possible relations between communication and culture

○ Culture is communication, and communication is culture

○ Culture is a variable that influences communication (the social science perspective)

Culture permits the creation of values, beliefs, and behaviors through communication  (the interpretive approach)

- What counts as Non-Western cultures and examples


- Definitions  

• How do worldviews relate to cultures

○ Worldviews are part of the deep structures of a culture

▪ Need to understand the symbols that represent different worldviews ○ The substructures on which cultures are built (hiebert, 2008). Don't forget about the age old question of What is stated by the fundamental laws of inheritance?

Big core behaviors can relate back to worldviews (fundamental elements of the  human existence)

○ The way a man, in a particular society, see himself in relation to all else (redfield 1961) ▪ individual If you want to learn more check out Who is eugene debs?

Basic assumptions and images that provide a more or less coherent, though not  necessarily accurate, way of thinking about the world (kearney 1984) ▪ Collective, subjective, could be individual  

▪ Skewed

- Functions of Worldviews

• To provide us with reality maps

○ A way of interpreting the world around us

• To give us emotional security

○ Psychological comfort

• To validate our cultural norms

• To help us integrate our culture

• To monitor how our culture changes

• To provide us with psychological reassurance

 COMM 2003 Page 1

• To provide us with psychological reassurance

○ When everything is in crisis gives you reassurance of belonging

- Three dimensions of worldviews and their characteristics

• Cognitive dimension: deep assumptions about the nature of reality ○ Mental categories and logic used to explain reality

• Affective dimension: assumptions about feelings and emotions

○ Shape feelings and provide emotional support

• Evaluative dimension: assumptions that give rise to social and moral norms ○ Virtues, standards, morals, manners

- Young's seven questions for examining worldviews

○ Answers to each of the seven questions for each of the worldviews studied in class


What does it mean to be human?

What is the basic  human problem?

What is the cause  of the problem?

What is the end goal  of transformation?

What are the means  of transformation?

What is the nature  of reality?

What is sacred, and how  may it be known?


Law of Karma,  

karmic selves

Desires and  


(sensual and  


Desire and  


Liberation from the  cycle of rebirth

Dharma (duty to  pursue liberation) Social Dharma (to  avoid chaos)

The cycle of rebirth (samsara)

Reality of the spiritual,  Religion of the Vedas  (sacred text)

Theravada Buddhism

No permanence, no  eternal self

The first noble  truth (Dukkha)

Second noble  

truth (Tanha)

Third noble truth  (Nirvana)

The fourth noble  truth (8-fold path of  middle way)


Atheistic religion, no  central role for gods (Nirvana is Spiritual)


imitation of the  

cosmos, balance  

between yin and  



Restless spirit



Worship, Divination, Virtue (de), & Filial  piety (Xiao)

Yin and Yang

Harmony and Order


Humans are  

embedded in a web  of relationships

Social chaos (of  the Warring  

States period)

Fail to live  

virtuous lives, Fail  to follow social  roles

Right pattern of  

human relationship

Balance between  inner (Nei) and  

outer (Wai) virtues

Reality is relational Making the Dao great  and Ancestor veneration


The people of the  kami, Humans are  naturally good; like  mirrors

Pollution (Tsumi) Lack of reverence  for the kami

Harmony is the  

ultimate goal

Participation in  


The land of the  kami

Eight million kami,  

Anything/anyone can be  kami


Humans are part of a  broad spiritual family  (all beings); humans  are not superior

Living out of  


forgetfulness and individualism

maintain and restore harmony

respecting spiritual  patterns


rhythmic and  

cyclical view of  

time, Sacred  


Everything is spiritual

Value Orientations

- Definitions of value orientations

○ Patterned principles that provide answers to common human problems  

○ Patterned principles referring to the 5 orientations (questions/problems in cultures)

There is a limited number of common human problems for which people must find  solutions

○ Solutions are variable within a range (so not at random)

○ All alternatives are present within all cultures, but some are culturally preferred


Basically not everyone in one place will have the same orientation but there is a  tendency  

What is the character of  innate human nature?  (human nature orientation)

What is the relationship between  humans and nature? (man-nature  (supernature) orientation)

What is the temporal (time related) focus of human life? (Time orientation)

What is the modality of human life?  (the activities humans engage in)  (Activity orientation)


(mutable/immutable) (at  their core humans are  


Mutable= can be  



be changed

Ex. Humans are good  

at their core and that  

does not change OR  

humans are good at  

their core and that  

never changes

▪ Mastery over nature

Humans are superior to  


Humans have the  

ability/privilege to gain  

power from nature,  

change nature, control  


Ex. See a river and  

build a dam or  

change its course


societies are  

examples of this  


▪Orientation towards the past□

The past has an  

important role on how  

we live and organize our  


Look to ancestors  

for guidance

The past informs us of  

how we should behave

Traditions and  

rituals important

Look to what has  

been before us as  

the model of  

influence for our  


▪ Doing orientation

□ Do things that bring success □ Tangible results and outcomes ◆

Ex. Resume is a list of  

your accomplishments

What is the modality of people's  relationship to other people?  (Relational orientation)  

▪ Lineal

□ Ancestry (lineage)

We relate with others based on  our ancestry  

Ex. Important to  monarchies

Based on family name people  know who you are (where you  grow up, etc)

Evil (mutable/immutable)  

▪Harmony with nature

Orientation towards the  

▪ Being orientation

▪ Collateral orientation

(at their core humans are  

Humans try to live in  


Focuses on enjoyable  

□ Interdependence


balance with the natural  

□ Focus is on the now

pleasurable activities

Who you are is an integral  

environment around us

Carpe diem (seize  

Have fun, just be, take  

part of the groups you  

◆ ◆

Build around, plant  but not too much Indigenous  

worldview are  

the moment)

the time to "smell the  


More present oriented (in  

terms of time orientation)

belong to

Your identity is defined by  relationship to other ◆ Connect with others

examples of this  

 COMM 2003 Page 2

□ Focus on the now and the  

examples of this  behavior

Focus on the now and the  activities you are doing  ◆ ENJOY THE NOW


Neutral (mutable)  

(we have balance but

we can go off that  




▪ Subjugation to nature

Nature is the all-powerful  

and humans are inferior/at the mercy of nature

Whatever nature can do  

there is nothing we can do

Members adjust  

accordingly to the  

fact that they can't  

beat or dominate  


Orientation towards the  


When we think about  

time we think about  

what is to come  

Ex. In college now  

so that at the end  

we will get a job  

(investing in our  





▪ Being-in-becoming orientation□

Focuses on the spiritual  

aspects of yourself

The activities that you engage  in are supposed to be ones  

that allows you to progress &  grow

Stresses the idea of centering  your activities so that you  

grow as a person

Ex. In everyday life  

investing in yourself as  

an individual  

▪ Individualistic orientation

□ Focuses on you, the individual

Being unique, standing  out

Cultivating the traits that set  you apart from others

- Common human problems that lead to value orientations

○ Possible responses for each problem

Hofstede's cultural dimensions

- Hofstede's definition of culture

You, your goals, your  aspirations

Culture = "the collective programming of the mind distinguishing the members of one group  or category of people from others " (Hofstede, 2001, p 9)

- The development of the dimensions

○ The IBM study

○ IBM employees from 40 countries, between 1967 and 1973  

○ Attitude surveys to determine the relationship between one's values and one's culture ▪ Based on the responses 4 dimensions were created  

- Four cultural dimensions

For each dimension know the definition, the key differences between the two poles on the  dimension, and be able to recognize characteristics of each dimension in applied situations


The extent to which members of a culture accept the unequal distribution/inequality  of power (status hierarchy, age, organizational hierarchy, education □ Focus is on relationship between people of different status

○ Two poles of a dimension

□ High power distance cultures

◆ You respect the power distance, you don't contradict those in power □ Low power distance cultures

◆ Individuals will treat everyone about the same

Power doesn't define the relationships, focusing on equality between  individuals  

◆ USA has 40. Panama has 95!! Wooah ○ Key differences

Low power distance

High power distance

Parents & children: relationship of equality

Relationship of obedience

Legitimate power: expertise they have

Coercive/reference power:  comes from the position,  and can make others do  things (listen to what I say)

Decentralized decision-making

Centralized decision

making (hierarchy pyramid,  decisions get passed down,  lowest people execute  decisions not make them)

Small number of supervisors

Large number of  


Subordinates consulted

Subordinates told what to  do


○ Two poles of a dimension

□ Individualism: loose ties between individuals, everyone looks after one's self

Collectivism: strong cohesive in-groups which protect individuals in exchange for  their loyalty

○ Scores for dimensions rated on a 0-100 scale

□ Hofstede-insights.com (CHECK COUNTRY'S SCORE) ◆ USA has a 91 for individualism

○ Key differences (not everyone does this, tendency, the average)


Focus on independence

Focus on "I"

Ingroup and outgroup communication are  similar (ex. polite even to strangers)


Focus on interdependence Focus on "we"

ingroup communication is not  equal to outgroup  

communication (ex. Outgroup  does not get the same  


Privacy is valued One is never alone (privacy  

 COMM 2003 Page 3

Privacy is valued One is never alone (privacy  doesn't manifest itself) (not  

uncommon to share  


Equity-based rewards

Low context communication (direct, spell it  out) (ex. I am cold (literally just means they are  cold and no expectations for you to do  anything)

Equality-based rewards

High context communication  (all about the contextual cues,  implicit, you have to figure  out the meaning based on  what has been said or not  been said) (ex. I am cold  (bring a blanket for the  person))

Equity means we are distributing (rewards) based on how much you  deserve depending on how much you put in (rewards are proportional to  the input) (you get what you put in)

Equality - everybody gets the same amount (rewards) regardless of what  they put in


○ The distribution of gender roles within a culture

□ Sex is the BIOLOGY and gender is the IDENTITY

□ How do individuals positions themselves in society based on gender roles ○ Two poles of dimension

□ Masculine cultures

◆ Masculine traits are valued

◆ The workplace

□ Feminine cultures

◆ family

□ The higher the score the more masculine

◆ USA is a 62! Sweden is a 5!!

◆ People, regardless of gender, will endorse these values

○ Key differences

High femininity (low M)

High masculinity (low F)

Weak gender differentiation (not an  emphasis on who wears blue/pink, jobs  aren't made for just ONE gender)

Strong gender differentiation  (occupations designed for  men/women ex. Welder/nurse)

Work to live (work just enough so you can  live, you have a job but time is more for  family, and enjoying yourself, more vacation  time, 36 hrs of work a week)

Live to work (you live in order to  work, workaholism, work is  center of your living, 60 hrs of  work a week)

Preference for fewer work hours

Preference for higher pay

Stress on equality, nurture, quality of life

Stress on equity, competition,  performance

Shared parental roles

Differentiated parental roles


○ The degree to which members of a culture try to avoid uncertainty ○ Two poles of a dimension

□ High uncertainty avoidance cultures

◆ Does not accept uncertainty

□ Low uncertainty avoidance cultures

◆ Tolerates uncertainty

◆ USA has a 46 on uncertainty (Greece is a 100!)

○ Key differences

Abbott - Flatland

Low avoidance

High avoidance

Children exposed to the unknown  (take risks!)

Children shielded from the unknown

Different = curious

Different = dangerous

Few rules

Many rules and rituals (so you know  how to behave)

Tolerance for ambiguity

Fear of ambiguity

Dissent is accepted

Strong desire for consensus

Acceptance of foreigners (strangers,  visitors, NEW)

Suspicion of foreigners

- Main cultural implications of the novel

Samovar et al. - the Maasai

- What the Maasai regard as valuable  

- Traditional African, oral, culture

- Values:

○ Children: family continuity; assistance for elderly

○ Cattle: sustenance, respect, ritualistic animal

○ Groups: centrality of family and life-stage groups

○ Elders: respect and deference to elders who are perceived to be wise

Pride: virtues of obedience, honesty, wisdom, and fairness

 COMM 2003 Page 4

○ Pride: virtues of obedience, honesty, wisdom, and fairness

- The Maasai worldview

- Nature: held in highest regard;

○ Interaction with the elements; coexistence

○ Cannot be changed although it changes without intervention

- Religion: direct relationship with God, who exists in everything in nature

- Death

○ Return to earth, in a circular and mutually beneficial relationship with nature  COMM 2003 Page 5

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